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Ford Kuga roars into SA

2012-01-25 11:26

BABY SUV: Ford's baby SUV is fun to drive with grin-inducing power courtesy of its turbo 2.5-litre engine. It doesn't come cheap, though...

  Gallery

Gallery: Ford Kuga 2012

2012-01-25 09:10

It’s been a long time coming but Ford’s striking SUV has finally arrived in South Africa. Is it better late than never for the new Kuga?

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer FORD
Model KUGA
Engine 2.5 litre petrol
Power 147kW at 6000 rpm
Torque 320Nm at 1600 - 4 000 rpm
Transmission Five speed auto
Zero To Hundred 8.8 seconds
Top Speed 205km/h
Fuel Tank 66-litres
Fuel Consumption 10.3km/l
Weight 2130kg
Boot Size 360-litres
Steering Power steering
ABS Yes
Airbags Six-airbags; Driver, passenger and side
Front Suspension Independent MacPherson struts with offset coil spring
Rear Suspension Independent multi-link control blade
Service Intervals 20 000km
Service Plan Four year/80 000km
Warranty Four year/120 000 km
Price Trend R375000/Titanium R395000
Rivals VW Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Chevrolet Captiva, Hyundai ix35

SERGIO DAVIDS

Cape Town - Launched in Europe in 2008 and spotted at JIMS in 2011, the Kuga has finally made its way to South Africa to take on other SUVs such as Chevrolet’s Captiva and Volkswagen’s Tiguan.

Check our Kuga gallery images.

Despite being around for over four years and having a replacement on the way (the next Kuga, already revealed as the US-market Escape, will be shown at the 2012 Geneva auto show in March), Ford reckons it’s better late than never as the US automaker hopes to carve its own slice of the baby SUV market.

Ford’s new SUV is available in one engine derivative, a 2.5-litre petrol, and two specification levels (Trend and Titanium) with prices ranging from R375 000 – R395 000.

STRIKING DESIGN

In terms of looks, the Kuga is certainly a head turner with its bold design and chunky facia. It appears to have borrowed, however minor, styling cues from its Fiesta and Focus siblings especially at the front and in profile. It’s not the most stylish SUV out there - that honour goes to Kia’s Sportage - but it has a commanding road presence that demands respect… at least until a true off-roader pitches up.

Ford has targeted its own Fiesta generation with the new Kuga, assuming that buyers of its popular hatchback will have grown up by now and are looking for a vehicle more suited to the rigours of family life.

The 2.5-litre powerplant, borrowed from the outgoing Focus ST, produces 147kW at 6000rpm and 320 Nm from 1600 - 4000rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode. Ford claims a fuel consumption figure of 10.3 litres/100 km on the combined cycle for the five-cylinder petrol engine, but no diesel variant is planned for the future.

By the way, the all-new Focus ST, along with the new Fiesta ST, will be launched by mid-2012.

DRIVING IT


Even if you’re sold on the looks, it’s how the new model drives that’s crucial, and the Kuga doesn’t disappoint. One of the reasons Ford's Focus ST proved so popular is its terrific turbocharged 2.5-litre engine and, while the Kuga is nowhere near hot-hatch territory, it proved incredibly fun to drive. The steering is responsive and, with its All-Wheel Drive system, the new SUV is remarkably agile despite its size. There’s minor body roll when entering corners but the Kuga is very capable at hugging the road through bends.

While it's unlikely you’ll take your Kuga on a 4x4 track, seeing as though it’s not a true off-roader, it’s 188mm ground clearance will certainly make short-work of moderate off-road trails or Sandton city centre pavements.

Ford Kuga

SPLIT TAILGATE: When opened partially the Kuga's rear is reminiscent of Volvo's C30 and just as impractical. When fully opened, the lowered boot lip and wide entryway is ideal for any stowage needs.

The Kuga is a tremendously comfortable ride and its high centre of gravity will only be a problem if you’re treating this soft-roader like a hot hatch and the open road like a race track.

Inside, you’re greeted with an interior that doesn’t seem to have borrowed too much from its Fiesta or Focus siblings. In fact, it’s refreshing to see an interior that’s decidedly different - the large panels and chunky controls really convey a sense of space and comfort.

FEATURE PACKED

Features in the Trend specification include orange metallic trim along the gearbox/handbrake and door handles. While it’s certainly striking to look at, it complements neither the interior trim nor the exterior colours. It’s not terrible by any means, just something I wouldn’t miss if it was removed.

The higher specced Titanium model sports dual climate control, panoramic sunroof, leather gearknob and rain-sensing wipers. Titanium cars do not have the colourful (read "odd") trim additions of the Trend models opting instead for a gunmetal grey colour scheme. Both models come standard with six airbags, leather trim, power-start button, cruise control and heated seats, as well a host of safety acronyms including ABS, EBD and ESP.

Ford Kuga

TRENDY: The Trend specification sees grey interior fittings swapped for a bright metallic orange.

The Kuga has a host of stowage compartments; the usual dash, gearbox and boot as well as under the rear passenger seats and beneath the floor mats.

The boot features a split tailgate that offers the option of either opening the top section or the entire boot lid. Regarding the boot, there’s ample space on offer with 360-litres with the seats up and a massive 1355-litres folded down.

IS IT WORTH IT?

Overall it’s a great SUV, albeit a long time coming. It's also likely to leaving you grinning - whenever you put your foot down - and grimacing - whenever you’re filling up at a petrol station behind the wheel - in equal measure, too.

As the late arrival to the SUV segment, the Kuga has it work cut out for it as it contend with the likes of VW’s recently-facelifted Tiguan, Honda’s CR-V, Hyundai’s i35 and the Kia Sportage. It’s a tough task for any vehicle, but with its racy engine, AWD capability and high level of specification, the new Kuga seems set to take on the competition.

Prices
Kuga 2.5 Trend - R375 000
Kuga 2.5 Titanium - R395 000

A four-year or 80 000km service plan is standard on both models with service intervals at 20 000km. Also included on both models is a standard four-year or 120 000km warranty.

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